Category Archives: cooking for kids

Formerly Annapurna (New York City)

This review is about a past and future experience. As I don’t have the resources (time, money, energy) to pack up my darlings and fly to New York for dinner tonight, I’ll have to rely on memory. Annapurna was my absolute favorite Indian restaurant. Even after a 2 hour jaunt to Queens to experience an almost exclusively Indian neighborhood, it turns out I felt most satisfied with Little India (more like teeny tiny India) in Manhattan. dosahut.jpg

Annapurna, as I learned this weekend, means literally “big matter” or “fullness” but most commonly, “full of food”. I opened up my mailbox on Saturday to find a magazine offer with my name on it. It’s a consumer reports of the food industry. I opened it and read with horror that a certain brand of ice-cream contains more saturated fat than is recommended per day in just one single serving. My frustration was not with Haagen-Dazs but with the fact that there are people in the world that need a magazine to tell them that ice-cream isn’t the healthiest food choice. As a child of the 80s I know all too well what the “snackwell” industry has done to America. It’s made us fat! Why? Because we aren’t satisfied. We aren’t full of food, good tasting food.

When I enrolled in cooking school I was fed cheese, cream, all sorts of oils, steak etc. And within 3 months I had lost 17 of my 20 post September 11th pounds. For the first time I was satisfied. So on Saturday I threw the abomination in the garbage and picked up my current read, “Zen and the Art of Anything”. I opened it up to the section on eating and drinking. For the record, I deplore eating rules. “Good foods/Bad foods” are for people without taste buds.

Food so much is about memory and that’s where the pressure of parenting comes in. Do I want my girls to remember the taste of slow churn ice-cream made in the backyard or the low-fat kind from the green container? Really, which is healthier? Memory and experience are what bring me back to that beloved unassuming eatery in NYC. Makhani Chicken was my favorite dish there. It’s so buttery and creamy with a balance of acid from the tomatoes and lemon juice. I would scoop it up with steaming Naan and top it with grilled onions to make a sort of fajita, (I’m from Texas y’all). I cheated and read a little review on citysearch that said it’s kid friendly. I don’t remember whether they have highchairs or not since kids weren’t anywhere on the radar back then. It was a really big place and there wasn’t a wait (although it could get pretty crowded around 8pm). Order a lassi and the kiddos will be in heaven, I remember them being delicious. The staff I don’t think was particularly nice, but it’s NY…who is? Unfortunately I read that Annapurna has a different name now but I would still risk it and take the kids there.

If you are going to NYC stop by what used to be Annapurna and fill your belly. Then walk across the street to the famous Kalustyan’s (Indian and Middle Eastern Grocery store) and buy a tin of saffron. It’s only $30 instead of $60 elsewhere and it’ll last 10 years. Do the math, $3 a year for beautifully colored and seasoned rice. Your children will love you for it. I would give this place 4 1/2 golden sippy cups full of mango lassi.

What used to be Annapurna 108 Lexington Ave. NYC (212) 679-1284


Let’s do Launch

Today my second child is 8 days old, and we’re both absolutely ravenous. What better time to launch this little idea I’ve been dreaming up? Here’s the foggy/sleep deprived vision:

As a breastfeeding mama and culinary school grad, I want to ensure that I can go to any restaurant anywhere and the two of us can eat simultaneously. What if we were so lucky to live in a time that embraced childhood “gastro-education” (yeah, I coined that)? We teach our kids how to read and write but not how to eat. Sure we say “eat your veggies” or “that’s too much candy,” but we don’t really value exploration. I am positively obsessed with my children’s palates. When my 3 year old was a wee babe, I occasionally supplemented with, gasp, formula. BUT, not until I had done a blind tasting of about 5 different brands. Organic is definitely the way to go, the other stuff tastes like a metallic milkshake. I vowed that she’d have access to all different kinds of food. She had been exposed to sushi, curries, and calamari all before her first birthday and even though she loves her mac & cheese, I’m able to coax her to try just about anything still.

So, why not expose my children to gourmet food? Well, there’s the possibility that the valet dude might scoff at my ’88 volvo wagon with dual carseats, there won’t be a changing table, breastfeeding might offend the upper class (peasant food), my 3 year-old might talk too loudly, or I just might be ignored because of the stereotypes of parents being bad tippers.

But what if I’m wrong? Here’s the experiment. I will take my children to nice places to eat. No Chili’s, no chains unless they are local, no fast foods. These restaurants will be rated on toddler tolerance (she will be required to behave), breastfeeding tolerance ( I’ll do my best to be discreet), highchair/changing table accessibility, and the ability of the waitstaff to serve a tired mother just as they would anyone else.restaurant_cal.gif

Please mamas and daddies, join me in this experiment. Go out to eat! And eat well. Leave comments about your experiences and remember… Breeders are Eaters too, chicken nuggets just won’t do!